Seeing beyond the conditioned mind

Speaking on a podcast recently — I shared about the moment it viscerally dawned on me that the greatest struggles in my life were the product of my conditioned mind.

And I don’t mean the idea we have each read countless times in books, heard in talks, and training. I’m talking about a moment of lucidity where all the confusion, fog, frustration, angst simply melted away.

I could see, and better yet, feel this crisp clarity that brought me to tears.

I remember those lucid moments like they were yesterday. Sitting at a table having coffee while in the Philippines, I feverishly wrote about my struggles, unanswered questions, and the feelings of being overwhelmed with where I was at in my life.

I was yet again, at another crossroads.

To expand on the background here, a little over a year prior to this time in 2018, my fiancé left me. I was utterly devastated. I remember crying my eyes out on the kitchen floor of the home we shared together, realizing that this was a defining moment for me.

This was a moment where, listening to my own inner teacher, my heart, I heard the message loud and clear….

This is exactly what you needed. Now you can rebuild a better life.

There I am, feeling devastated, and my heart is telling me this is precisely what my life needed. To say that it felt easy to hear this, would be a lie.

This is where I poured myself into excavating the burdens and boulders I still carried with me from the past, like a bag of rocks on my back. And, this is where I dove deeper into what was for me personally, to live a more purposeful and intentional life.

Much of what I had at this point was a mix of me pulling myself up by the bootstraps and continually following this insatiable fire in my heart that wanted to live well. But along the way, when that feeling of aliveness began to subside, I started to become possessed by my possessions, and my fear to consider anything beyond what I had yet experienced.

Over that next year, leading up to this moment at the table, I continued to excavate. I continued to read. To write. Hire coaches. Go to therapy. And more. All seeking to fulfill this desire to feel alive in my life again.

Where had it gone?

Was this just simply the way things are?

I couldn’t accept that.

And though I wasn’t utterly miserable, I knew from previous years what it felt like to feel that enthusiasm in my belly, and the warmth of a smile on my face, that had since faded. Drowning in the responsibilities that I refused to question or really look at.

Fast forward to the table in the Philippines, I was at another crossroad. In fact, I had taken this vacation because I knew that something needed to change in my life, and fortunately I had discovered enough over the previous year to know that that change had to begin inside me first.

I needed to get to the bottom of this feeling that craved depth. That craved enthusiasm again. That craved adventure. Fun. And levity.

That was all initially masked as a feeling that said, ‘something just isn’t right’

There I sit, writing. Writing. And writing some more. I’m pouring onto paper everything that I experience as me and my life.

I’m writing about the parts of me still sad about my fiancé leaving. I’m writing about the challenge of navigating this country I know nothing about.

I’m writing about this tight feeling in my gut that won’t go away. This feeling that I call dread. I was dreading my future in these moments, because I could tell my life was trying to show me something… but what?

I continued to write. More frustration. Anger. Fear that I won’t be able to figure this out. Guilt that I’m even considering wanting something more for my life. Hearing the voice that I should be grateful for all I have, and it’s selfish to even consider anything beyond this life.

I kept writing until it felt like there was nothing left.

That’s when the dam broke.

And heavy tears began falling down my face as I began to write even faster about the decision I had made a year earlier to go into business for myself.

Leading into me writing about my current role in a company, doing work that I had loved for many years. Being assigned multiple roles that had served me in countless ways. Financially, developmentally, and beyond. I had loved my work for so long.

And the hardest thing for me to admit to myself on those pages that day, that I was done. It was time for me to go. These were tears of deep gratitude for how meaningful my work had been for me. Coming from my background, it was a dream come true.

The tears were that of relief that I had finally connected to what that unrelenting tightness in my gut and feeling of my life being off, was all about. I had to put down my pen and simply allow myself to sob.

And as I felt this crystal clarity, like a pristine lake washing over me for a few moments, I felt complete and utter peace. I felt like I had taken the teapot off the burner after boiling for far too long.

And in that feeling of being centered, calm, and at ease — that is when I saw with absolute clarity the conditioning of my mind. As it immediately came back in to tell me all the reasons that this change could not happen. All the reasons it was wrong. All the reasons I couldn’t make it on my own.

Here was the difference this time when my mind did this.

I noticed how fearful, forceful, and desperate it was that I did not change anything. That I continue to stay where I am. Where I’m great at what I do. And where much of my day to day is known.

Except, after I had that moment of deep clarity, I knew what needed to be done. It was not a simple passing thought this time. I could feel deep in my bones what was to happen next.

I made my corporate exit a few short months later.

The greatest gift, coming to know when my mind is offering me something that is of value to listen to, and when it is offering an old narrative that I can observe, and continue on my way.

We each have our own unique way of being in this world. One of the greatest challenges is embracing the mess to find it.

Be well,

Matt

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